This spring, one University of Texas student will return to San Antonio to give back to the event that launched his success as a Texas high school science fair participant. Karan Jerath a freshman Petroleum Engineer major at The University of Texas at Austin will help judge entries from among the more than 1,100 Texas middle and high school students who will display their outstanding projects at the 2016 Texas Science and Engineering Fair (TxSEF) at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from March 31 to April 2, 2016 in San Antonio.
The fair is currently seeking industry experts, college faculty or prominent college students like Jerath, or teachers with science expertise to serve as judges for the junior and senior divisions in 20 project categories. Judges are responsible for reviewing projects and providing encouragement and constructive criticism.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) continues its commitment to the success of tomorrow’s workforce by co-sponsoring the event with ExxonMobil for the 15th consecutive year along with host The University of San Antonio.
Jerath, a winner of the Environmental Engineering category at the 2015 TxSEF, went on to receive the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) competition and was featured on the Forbes 30 under 30. Jerath won at ISEF for his design of a sturdy device that can collect the oil, gas and water spewing from a broken well on the seafloor. Sensors inside the 350-ton device measure the temperature, pressure and density of the mix of gases and fluids erupting from a well. A computer then calculates how valves in the gadget should be adjusted so that the gas and oil can be collected.
Recently, we asked Jerath about his experience at the TxSEF while he was a student at Friendswood High School and what drove his passion to return as a judge at this year’s science fair.
What did you enjoy most in taking part in the science fair?
- I enjoyed meeting all of the other students that participated in the science fair. I developed so many new friendships and I met some of the most inspiring and dedicated people from around the world! It was a fantastic opportunity for all of us to share our ideas that will hopefully change the world one day. We had so much in common and it was refreshing to be surrounded by like-minded people.
What has life been like after winning at ISEF?
- It has been different in a very positive way. My invention has been receiving a lot of attention, which has made me more confident in my abilities. I have been working very hard to make my invention a reality. Winning ISEF has shown me that anything is achievable as long as you put in the effort and dedicate yourself to it. I am very grateful for all of the support from my family and friends during the whole process.
Why did you decide to become a judge at TXSEF?
- Quite simply, to learn and be inspired. I really enjoy learning about different projects and the inspiration behind them. I am excited to learn about what the future generation is inventing and I am happy to support them in their journey.
Why should others get involved in the science fair as a judge?
- Getting involved serves as a meaningful way to not only broaden your knowledge base, but also to expand your perspective. Science fairs serve as the ideal way to educate the world about growing concerns and ways to improve our society. It is amazing to see what young minds are up to and how they fix problems in creative ways. It really is very inspiring and shows you what kinds of things the next generation is interested in.
What advice would you now have to give to yourself back when you first got involved in Science Fair?
- I grew up without a lot confidence and so I would advise myself to be more bold and self-assured in my pursuits. Thankfully through science fair, I was able to understand that even at a young age, your ideas can be taken seriously and it is up to you to make that a reality.
Individuals interested in judging can apply on the Texas Science and Engineering website. As a part of the judging process, judges will interact with regional finalists and interview finalists and encourage future disciplinary pursuits in addition to evaluating their projects.
This event offers judges the opportunity to interact with the brightest young scientific minds in Texas and the future innovators of our nation. There are three types of judges for the Texas Science and Engineering Fair: Fair Award judge, Blue Team Award judge and Special Award judge. Judges may serve as a Fair judge and a Blue Team judge by selecting both during registration.